In Wicklow: Falconry Experience with Falconry Ireland

So I love birds, they are fascinating and beautiful and the more knowledge I can gain about them, the better. I asked for a falconry experience for christmas. Falconry Ireland is where I decided to go. You can often find some great deals on GrouponPhoebeGill150716294How to get there: The easiest way to get there is putting the coordinates 52.801529,-6.255436 into a sat nav. The building is down an unmarked dirt road, off a number of unnamed roads. So definitely use the coordinates as it will get you there directly. 
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I went on the falconry experience for one but you are not alone, there is a large group of you. Whats included is a briefing on the hawks and the day, then a hawk walk, a falcon show and finishes with a showcase of the other birds that live on the property. PhoebeGill150716126First up the Hawk Walk. This is where we walked up to a field and went into a patch of trees and saw the hawks fly. We all got a glove and our guide, Jim, put a small amount of meat onto the glove and Vinny the hawk flew to us. I liked Vinny a lot. He also liked my Langy bag! Also it started to lash rain when we were out there which is why Vinny looks wet. PhoebeGill150716059

Next up the Falcon Show, this is where the guide and owner, Darragh Brennan, showcased the beautiful Lanner Falcon. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and we only got to see one dive but you could tell that they are incredible hunters! We then got to hold a lanner falcon and they are just stunning up close.PhoebeGill150716161

Lastly was the showcase of the other birds that live on the land. There are lots of owls, it was great to hear information of where they come from, how they hunt, their species quirks and differences. It was really fascinating.
PhoebeGill150716214Hedwig!! There was also a kite that flew around the property, it’s amazing seeing these birds swoop and catch food in the air. How some of them close their eyes when they eat, how inquisitive some species are. It’s great to get so up close with these birds. PhoebeGill150716275I think they had four species of Owls on the property. Eurasian Eagle Owl, Snowy Owl, Burrowing Owl and Barn Owl. All beautiful creatures. PhoebeGill150716184 You can tell the people who work here love and are dedicated to their birds. They are open on Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:15 and are not open to the public because the birds are flown everyday for exercise and natural prey feeding.

Take Note:

  1. The Hawks do not peck or preen but they may land on your head, so maybe bring a hat. It also makes for great photos!
  2. Look like you are interested and Jim will put meat on your glove. People were giving me daggers because I stepped forward, to have Vinny fly to me, many times.
  3. If you get too close to the birds aviaries, they hiss at you, that is their safe space so keep that in mind when you stick a camera through the mesh, they may also bite.
  4. Bring waterproof shoes if it has been raining. The tour is 2 hours and you are walking through a field.
  5. Park your car to the left of the house by the field, don’t park to the right by the wall, a huge tractor came through with hay and couldn’t get pass.

I definitely recommend this experience, you learn a lot, they are incredible birds and it’s wonderful to see them in the open and flying. I really think is a great present to give someone interested in birds of prey. Remember to check out Groupon and get vouchers for you and a friend! Have you had a falconry experience?

Happy Travels!

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In Life: #AnimalRightsInTourism

So I saw this hashtag on Twitter and I am glad I clicked on it, on my recent trip to Croatia I encountered two cases of terrible animal captivity and it is still affecting me since I have come home. This twitter movement was stirred up because of a new documentary Blood Lions, all about shooting lions for money in South Africa, it goes into the breeding of lions and the people who enjoy killing an animal. This prospect to me is very interesting and am very intrigued to see it!

Being conscious of how we interact with animals is something I am very passionate about. Especially when we travel. It sometimes feels like when we are abroad we forget about the ethical rights and focus on a cool experience. Holding a monkey or a bird on a string in the street, petting wild animals, elephant rides or swimming with dolphins. They are all things I struggle with. I don’t intend to shame anyone who has had or wants to do these experiences. I want to make that very clear. Having this conversation is not a threat but a sharing of an idea that you can agree or disagree with.

My own personal stance is I would rather save up all of my money, every cent, to go back to Kruger National Park and experience wild animals in that way. I don’t want to go to a sanctuary and pet them, I even had the chance to go to a sanctuary and didn’t feel comfortable with it. I want to drive for hours and experience something so utterly amazing, an animal in the wild. Similarly with whale watching, I would also have the same stance with whales, dolphins and sharks. Seeing these creatures with all of that space and freedom is what I would prefer to experience.

Animals in Captivity

Now some zoos are good and I will support their dedication to protecting and educating the public about the creatures of the world. Some are terrible and unfortunately you may not know which is which until you enter the gates. I still struggle with zoos sometimes because yes there isn’t enough space for these animals but outside of these spaces, they are being poached or pushed out of their habitats with no where to go. Nothing is simple in the world we have created. Nothing. I am still trying to figure out how I can live in the world with minimal impact.

I understand the reality that experiencing an animal up close is what people want, they are incredible believe me there is nothing more I want to do than snuggle a red panda or feed a slow loris some mango and hold it’s tiny hand but there is always something that stops me and that is what goes on after all the people go home. When members of the public own these animals, when they are on the streets at night time or on a beach what happens when they go home.

My point is that supporting breeding programs and educating yourself or younger generations is incredibly important. I want to start being more engaged with the information I take in. I don’t want to be a spectator and I have had this feeling for a while now and this hashtag has inspired me a bit.

I am going to try something starting this Sunday and I hope that this is going to be received well. I have been feeling like I need to talk about this for a while so I hope it is welcomed.

So my Beans, will you look up #AnimalRightsInTourism ? Do you like knowing about different animals in the world and what best way to see them or help them?

Happy Travels!

In Wicklow: Glendalough

One of my best friends and I went to Glendalough, Co. Wicklow recently. We are both bloggers/youtubers and it is great that we can come together and create and hang out while getting content to show all of you. So here are a few shots from that day.
PhoebeGill150211027There are lots of trails, paths you can go on, I haven’t actually explored all of them yet, I can’t wait to do the top trail, I was waiting for it to become a little bit nicer weather. I will probably make a video of it on my channel some time in the future. 

PhoebeGill150211101Glendalough is a Monastic site, it’s ruins are located near the lower lake. The most well intact and impressive is the round tower a classic site of Glendalough.

PhoebeGill150211118What I love most about this area is the wildlife and the colours. This patch of forest has always been covered in green moss when I go. It is always beautiful.

PhoebeGill150211106In winter the hills and the ground turn brown and will slowly get more colourful as the months go on. There are birds everywhere, it is great to stop and wait by the upper lake to see different species fly around and hear their calls.

PhoebeGill150211109There is something I look for every time I come to Glendalough. The first time I came here, I saw a stag and a doe. They were beautiful and ever since I always keep an eye out in case the deer are hiding in the tall grass. Can you spot the deer in this picture?

PhoebeGill150211162There is also some resident mallards that are always up for being in pictures. 

PhoebeGill150211192Glendalough is a perfect place in Summer or in Winter. I love spending time here all year round. I go on birthdays or days off, if I want some exercise or I take a picnic with some friends. It is a must do in Wicklow. When you visit it you’ll know why they call it the Garden of Ireland.

Happy Travels!PhoebeGill150211033

In South Africa: Kruger National Park

I have wanted to go to Kruger National Park for so many years. It has been on my bucket list to go on safari and ever since I watched The Wild Thornberrys I have wanted to see wild animals in Africa (also to talk to them but I don’t think I can achieve this). It has been a dream of mine for about 16 years.PhoebeGill141014048

The flight from Johannesburg to Nelspruit is thirty five minutes, very quick flight, you even get a carton of juice and a pastry, what more could you want.

Kruger about the size of Wales, so there is a lot of terrain you can cover and lots of gates you can enter and exit. You can go wherever as long as you are out of the park on time.

We stayed right next to the Paul Kruger Gate. A fantastic location, it is amazing as you are driving down the road you see wildebeest or zebra, it’s amazing. There is a bridge right in front of the Paul Kruger gate over the Sabie river. Before you even get into the park you can find wildlife on the river. The first animal we saw was an elephant in the tall grass.PhoebeGill141014029

We had a Jeep so we were able to go on the dirt roads, we generally stayed along the Sabie, I am very glad we did. Naturally animals go to water, so it is very likely you will see everything you want to see.

We went on three drives. First when we arrived at our hotel so around 2pm. One 5:30am – 9:30am and 1pm – 5:45. All amazing.PhoebeGill141014155-2

Tips:

  1. Look at previous sightings, there is a facebook and twitter page dedicated to what people see in the park. https://twitter.com/latestkruger Know where the animals are so you have a better shot at seeing them.
  2. Get a map, know where you are and how you can get back, don’t get stuck in the park.
  3. Bring suncream and sunglasses, you have no idea about the wind whipping you will get sitting in the back of a car and also the wind in your eyes for three hours is painful. Sun is hot, it’s africa.
  4. Get up early. I mean really early. Morning time is incredible in Kruger.
  5. If you see an elephant in the middle of the road. Back up. Elephants can be aggressive, they have killed people before. I am not sure about Rhino or Hippo but again these animals can be aggressive so be careful. Reverse is your friend, do it.
  6. Look in the trees! You never know what you could spot.PhoebeGill141014032-3

Animals I saw:

  1. Elephants (Probably around 90 in the total three drives)
  2. Black Rhino
  3. White Rhino
  4. Hippo
  5. Buffaloes
  6. Vervet Monkeys
  7. Chacma Baboons
  8. Giraffe
  9. Wildebeest
  10. Impala
  11. Greater Kudu
  12. Hyena
  13. Zebra
  14. Lilac Breasted Roller
  15. Sable
  16. Springbok
  17. Yellow Billed Hornbill
  18. Warthog
  19. Water Monitor
  20. Crocodile
  21. African Fish Eagle
  22. Martial Eagle
  23. Egyptian Goose
  24. Mongoose
  25. Bush Baby
  26. BatsPhoebeGill141014171

Some of my favourite moments:

  1. Zebra walking past our room. They were just grazing outside the window…amazing.
  2. Sitting in between a herd of elephants; they were at the river, females and calfs. We just turned off the car, rolled down the windows and watched these beautiful amazing creatures drink, eat and play. Absolutely amazing to watch such an amazing family dynamic.
  3. A whole herd of elephants coming up behind us at sunset. Absolutely amazing they were walking beside the river and we drove along beside them until they decided to walk on the road behind us. Incredible moment.
  4. A whole herd of buffaloes crossing the road causing a traffic jam.
  5. Coming across a huge beautiful black rhino. Just amazing.
  6. Watching a hippo cross the road. She decided she wanted to go to the other side of the river so right on the bridge, where everyone drives in and out, she just pottered across the road. It was just incredible.
  7. Lightening storm at dinner, sitting listening to the thunderous air and flashes of lightening.
  8. Watching bush babies at dinner.PhoebeGill141014069-4

Kruger is my disneyland. It is the happiest place on earth. If you take the 11 hour flight to Johannesburg and you don’t go to Kruger you are a fool. This place is just amazing and I can’t wait to go back.

Happy Travels!

In Ireland: Our Only Reptile

Ireland has one reptile species roaming the land and they are the beautiful common lizard.DSCN0919

It’s very odd for a cold blooded creature to live in Ireland, a cold, rainy little island but they hibernate and bask during the summer months. They are found all across the county in various habitats.

I think it’s amazing we have these beautiful creatures, mind where you step and remember they are protected against capture so don’t take one home!

This is the beautiful female we found, for more information you can visit here.

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